Something to Hide: An Inspector Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George

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Something to Hide: An Inspector Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It might be the 21st book in the series but fatigue has not set in. This one revolves around the issue of female genital mutilation and it's an absolute cracker. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 640 Date: January 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529346541

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It's late July and Deborah St James is at a meeting with Dominique Shaw, Undersecretary for the school system, a representative from the NHS, Mr Oh from Barnardos, someone from Orchid House whose name she didn't catch but would later turn out to be Zawadi and Narissa Cameron, a filmmaker. It follows on from the success of Deborah's book London Voices: the meeting is an exploration of the possibility of the idea behind the book being used to highlight an area which is causing concern in some communities. Deborah's uncertain about quite how successful she could be as the problem seems to occur in Nigerian and Somali communities as she relies on getting the trust of the people she speaks to and photographs.

The Mayville Estate in Dalston, north-east London, is home to the Bankole family. Abeo is the father and he runs various food enterprises where his son, Tanimola (known as Tani) is supposed to work after college but isn't keen on showing up. Monifa is the mother, general dogsbody and peacekeeper when she can manage it. The light and joy of the family is eight-year-old Simisola. When we meet them, eighteen-year-old Tani has been told by his father that he is to go to Nigeria to marry Omorinsola, a guaranteed virgin and from a family of good breeders. Tani's determined that he's not going and not only because of his girlfriend, Sophie Franklin. Abeo's determined he will go - this has cost good money and he will need to recoup it.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Phinney is part of a disfunctional family. His brother Paulie (who runs a couple of pawn shops) and wife Eileen are OK but his own home life is dominated by his severely disabled daughter, Lilybet. His wife, Pietra (everyone calls her Pete) is devoted to her, to the extent that nothing much else is important to her. She obviously loves Mark but they haven't had any sort of sex life in years. She encourages him to look elsewhere and knows that he does take advantage of this.

Acting Chief Superintendent Thomas Lynley, DS Barbara Havers and DS Winston Nkata are called in when a Nigerian-born detective sergeant working for the Met is found unconscious in her flat and dies in hospital from her injuries. Teo Bontempi had been found on the floor of her flat by DCS Mark Phinney - she used to be part of his team - and he'd got her to hospital. It's obviously murder but did the cause lie in something she was investigating or in her private life? When she was in Phinney's team she wasn't a team player and that was part of the reason why she was moved.

Oh, but this book is an absolute cracker. I picke dit up, intending to read it over a week or so - it's 640 pages after all - but three days later I finished it in the early hours of the morning with a satisfied sigh. I'll tell you straight away that the ending is stunning: I knew whodunnit but was completely wrong. The finale is so good that I actually found myself understanding the killer if not sympathising with what had been done. It's an in-depth examination of the problems caused by female genital mutilation. It doesn't just happen on the African continent: women who have been cut believe that their daughters need to be cut too, or they will never get a 'good' husband. It's the guarantee of purity and fidelity. It might be against the law to perform the operation but it's still a thriving business in the UK. Some practitioners are better than others: many are simply brutal. Elizabeth George shines a light on what's happening but manages to do it in such a way that the reader understands the why rather than springing to judgement.

It's intelligent, informative writing, backed by a brilliant plot: there's no way that I could give it fewer than five of our Bookbag star. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

I've just reread Ruth Rendell on the same subject. George is better.

Elizabeth George's Inspector Lynley Novels in Chronological Order

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